David Muench - Legendary Landscape Photographer

I’m alive most when I’m out photographing either deep in canyons of mother earth or up on the tops of peaks.

>>> Click image above to see David's interview.

My first camera was an Ikoflex. I started in black and white. Then, it developed into color, of course, and then I went to a Linhof 4x5 large format. My earliest photo was taken in 1953. It’s a black and white from up on Hunt’s Mesa in Monument Valley.

Early influences

Coming out of art center school of design in Los Angles, I was really touched by many of the stars like Brett Weston, Ernst Haas in color, Cartier Bresson with 35mm, and of course Ansel set the pace for photography.


What’s most exciting for me is working the edges between seasons—running winter snow well into spring with flowers below. Working the Autumn coloring, and beautiful trees.

Going into the winter season, these changes and the edges have been the most fascinating. And of course, the brooding moods, the great moods and the drama. Most all the time is always in pursuit of that next drama.


It always comes around to light. The real finishing touch is working with the light. I love sidelight, backlight. The one I really enjoy the most is ambient light now—quieter light, wet light.

When it rains for instance, or you’re in a fog. I just love fog work. Working in the fog everything changes. You get mystery. Magic comes to it, and that’s where the ambient light is.

Its not contrasty, and I love the subtlety. You can work with details. You get form, which you have to place and work with light and shade, so that it’s agreeable or enjoyable at least. You get a harmony in the image.

I’m always chasing rainbows—always chasing. I won’t quit until I drop.

Favorite places

One of my favorites is Big Bend National Park in Texas—its rock, deserts, plant life, animal life. It’s very wild, and you get a sense of wildness. It’s beautiful. I love to get the feeling of harmony in there.

There are the bristlecone locations. I love the airy quality between sky and earth with the trees reaching up in between, they really touch on both of them. I mean, even the earth around the root systems is exposed.

The root systems are exposed, and yet the top of the tree is alive and reaching into the sky.

Affect on life

It really has brought us all together. It has occupied much of our lives. With Marc for instance, they went on trips with me, just like I did with my dad and mom. By osmosis, ya know, he picked it up and has become very good.

"Embrace" Great Basin National Park

"Embrace" Great Basin National Park

Favorite image

I have one entitled, 'Embrace.' It's of two bristlecone trunks up on Great Basin National Park. That one just brings tears to my eyes, because the trees talk to me.

You can feel the weather. Not just weather. It's much stronger than that. The elements are just battering these trees, and then the backside is alive. This to me is just unparalleled.


Pay attention to what you respond to personally.

'What am I seeing? What am I thinking about? What is the value of why I am doing it?' And see what you can come up with.

Let light be a guide.


It’s part of me. It is my connection to something I love, and has been part of me from inheritance. I’m a complete addict.

It's been a life way, totally. It still is and will be for quite a while. As long as I can hold up!

Leave a comment for David below. For more of David Muench, see DavidMuenchPhotography.com 

Watch the complete interview in the video at the top.

Look for David's "Best Of" teaching coming to the ALIVE Photo online classroom in 2016. In the meantime we'll send you his free mini-course, for a limited time. Click below...